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The Role of Your Maternal & Child Health Nurse

There is much to take in when you are having a baby, and an army of professionals that are available to help you look after your baby, but the the role of the Maternal & Child Health nurse (MCH Nurse) is the most enduring. You will have regular appointments with your MCH nurse from birth through to when your child is around four years old.

Prior to the birth of your baby you will see your GP, midwife or obstetrician and they will  look after you while you are pregnant and in hospital. Once you leave hospital, while you will have some limited contact with your midwife or obstetrician, this will cease after six weeks unless there is an ongoing health issue that needs to be managed. They then pass the baton on to the the MCH Nurse.

The hospital that you give birth in will let your local nurse know that you have had a baby and you are going home from hospital. Within a few days of being home, your nurse will contact you to make an appointment for a home visit.

At this home visit your baby will be weighed and measured and given a full health check. The nurse will also check on your health, both physical and emotional.

In the early weeks of becoming a parent your MCH appointments will be quite frequent as it is important for parents to feel supported with feeding and taking care of their baby. Over the first twelve months of your baby’s life, your MCH Nurse will review your baby’s health, growth and development.

The MCH Service offers the following:

  • Ten consultations at key ages and stages for you and your child. These consultations include a home visit and then appointments at two, four and eight weeks; four, eight, twelve and 18 months; and two and three and a half years of age
  • a chance to meet other parents in your area and access community groups such as a local mothers’ group
  • a 24 hour telephone support line (the Maternal and Child Health Line) which is available seven days a week (Ph:13 22 29)
  • further support, information, assistance and referrals if you need it.

These regular appointments are an opportunity for you to talk about any concerns you have, to talk through your parenting experiences and to have access to information that may help you improve your baby’s health and development.

You will generally see the nurse that lives closest to you. If you are unhappy with your nurse for whatever reason, you can request to see a different nurse or attend a different health centre. It is worth finding a nurse that you connect with because it is an incredibly supportive and helpful service.

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